The biggest advantage of digital photography is that I can often abandon the tripod and be more free and spontaneous in the field. For serious nature photography, film demanded the use of a tripod because of its slow speed (low ISO or ASA). But with a good professional digital camera, I can raise the ISO to 400 or 800 and still get a sharp, richly saturated image. This allows me to go into a location and work quickly to get a set of good pictures when time is limited.
All of the pictures in this group were taken in about 1.5 hours when I stopped briefly at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Washington while on my way to the Columbia Gorge. All the images were handheld, including those of the Red-tailed Hawk, for which I used a 500mm lens with 1.4x extender at an ISO of 640 (for those of you to whom this is Greek photo-speak, suffice it to say that in the past I might have gotten a couple of pictures on film, but with a less pleasing background and focus not so sharp). The image stabilization built into the long lens is also great for controlling camera movement and shake. Digital is good.
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Click on the photographs below for versions with captions.